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WSD welcomes Waterford Springs

For the first time in three decades, a newly built school has opened in Winnipeg School Division.

École Waterford Springs School, a new Nursery to Grade 8 dual-track school officially opened its doors to students on Jan. 4. The official grand opening of the school will occur, hopefully, later in the spring or fall, when provincial and WSD representatives, along with staff, students and families, can gather safely.

Located on Jefferson Avenue near King Edward Street, Waterford Springs will serve families in the Waterford Green and Castlebury Meadows housing developments.

The last school to be built in WSD was Prairie Rose School, which opened in 1993.

“It’s very exciting to finally see the work come to completion and the final product is just beautiful. I think it will serve the community very well in years to come,” said Manuel Silva, Waterford Springs principal.

The approximately 77,000-sq.-ft. school was designed by LM Architectural Group and built by Bockstael Construction. Excavation started in the spring of 2019 with plans to open the school in September, 2020, but Silva said the COVID-19 pandemic and delays in materials pushed the opening to the new year.

Silva said the school still requires a few finishing touches.

“Mostly the Industrial Arts and Home Economics areas,” Silva said. “We won’t be starting those programs officially at our school until September.”

Waterford Springs has capacity for approximately 600 students, but Silva said the building will eventually be extended to hold another 200 students.

“Right now we’re at about 550 students,” Silva said. “We’re nearing capacity quickly as the communities around us continue to grow.”

The new school includes such features as two science laboratories (one English, one French Immersion), a STEM lab, a massive gymnasium and attached multi-purpose room, plus the aforementioned Home Economics and Industrial Arts labs.

Waterford Springs also contains a childcare centre, which is attached to the school, but has its own entrance, office and parking lot.

“There are nice wide corridors and lots of bright colours,” Silva said. “The architect brought in some earth tones and a lot of Indigenous components were built into the school from working with our division elder Myra Laramee.”

“You walk into the school through the commons and you see the Morning Star on the floor and the beautiful sculpture overhead that was created by KC Adams. There’s a tremendous amount of light coming from the south, which lights up that whole area.”

“There’s a lot of windows. Even the gym has windows up above. No room went without some kind of natural light.”

Other cool features include circular LED lighting, a climbing wall in the gym and a firepit-style gathering space in the library.

With construction almost completed, Waterford Springs vice-principal Susan Drysdale said she’s excited to start the next “building project.”

“We’re building a school, not just the physical construction, but also the culture,” Drysdale said. “Building that culture with the staff, students, families and community is very exciting.”

While Waterford Springs was under construction, its future students were hosted by Meadows West, Tyndall Park, Prairie Rose, Stanley Knowles and Garden Grove schools.

“Our students being there put pressure on those schools, so it’s really been a community effort,” Drysdale said. “We’re grateful to our host schools that really took care of us and helped us through this time.”

Silva, who was previously the principal at École George V School, said building a new school during a pandemic was “quite the challenge.”

“It’s been a journey and I’ve learned a lot. I don’t know if I want to do it again,” said Silva with a laugh. “But, when it’s time to build a high school in the coming years, we’ll have learned a lot from this process. The second time will be easier, but it’s been quite the journey.”

“It’s been phenomenal to see the school being built literally from the ground up. You feel a bond with the building, as weird as that sounds. You feel there is a bond between you and this building when you’ve seen it from the start to what it looks like now.”


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